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Cynicism v. Idealism

There are at least two types of liberals. The cynic liberal and the idealistic liberal. Both end up at the same place, but get there by two totally different scenic routes.

I bring this up because recently, I've found myself in discussion with both. One friend is a staunch cynic liberal. Another friend is a strong idealistic liberal. When talking to both of them, I find myself persuaded by their representative liberalism (which is what happens when most of one's friends are smarter than you), and I find myself disagreeing with it as well (which is what happens when one is not smart enough to always realize that one's friends are just on a different intellectual level). It's weird. The same conversations, the same topics, the same conclusions - but two totally different views. Perspective is great. I'm enjoying it intensely, even though I have no idea where I come out on the liberal spectrum.

Ultimately, idealism makes me uncomfortable at times, because I've got too much cynical blood in me. At the same time, cynicism makes me uncomfortable at times, because I've got too much idealism inherent in me. I can't resolve it. In Platoon, there is a quote about battle for possession of one's soul. That is how I feel sometime between idealism and cynicism, and these two guys just represent that dichotomy. And for the record, that irritates the hell out of me. Does it really have to be one or the other?


  • At 1:06 AM, Blogger Sarah said…

    I consider myself a cynical idealist, and while I'm a contradiction in so many ways, it's not necessarily a contradiction. Basically, I'm idealist about how I think things should be, and I'm cynical about how things are.

    It definitely doesn't have to be one or the other. Most things in life aren't that black and white. Embrace the confusing grey!

  • At 9:32 AM, Blogger Me said…

    Yeah, that's where I am too, but these two represent both sides - without the taint of the other. So it makes me feel like it's an either/or. I'm glad to hear that you don't think it is.

  • At 1:16 PM, Blogger Cam Smith said…

    Most of my liberal friends are closer to the cynical end of the spectrum & I think thats at least partly because its so tough to be an idealist in today's world.

    Us idealists are taking a constant battering from current reality & I'd be lying if I said it doesn't engender some kind of cynicism in me. I guess trying not to give in to that early-heart-attack-inducing cynicism is part of being idealistic to begin with


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